At first, he had been frustrated that he would be forced to leave his wife for such a ridiculous reason. Then his frustration had turned to outrage when a Roman official told him that his wife had to go with him – no excuses.
“How could she possibly stand the journey? She is with child and is approaching her final month,” he had argued. “Surely Caesar Augustus would not expect her to endure such a trip?”
The official had smirked and said, “Caesar expects only one thing, and that is obedience from his subjects. If you fail to comply, you will suffer the consequences.” Joseph had not bothered to find out what those consequences would be. Instead, he had turned and stomped away.
As he neared his home, he saw Mary talking animatedly to her mother and father. All three seemed upset and Joseph knew at once that they had heard about the edict. Heli’s and Rebekah’s concern for their daughter’s welfare was evident.
“I see you’ve heard about Caesar’s plans?” Joseph asked as he waved the edict in his hands.
Heli turned to him and with a sad shake of his head said, “This is ridiculous, Joseph. To force a woman with child to take such a journey …,” he trailed off, overcome with worry for his daughter and unborn grandchild.
Rebekah reached out to comfort him and asked, “What if she just didn’t go? How would they know? So many people will be there, after all. Would it really matter if one girl was missing from the crowd?”
“Perhaps not,” Joseph said. “But I would never be able to leave Mary alone while I go to Bethlehem. She could have the baby and there would be no one here to help her.”
“I suppose if they wouldn’t miss one girl, they probably wouldn’t miss her mother either, would they Heli?” Rebekah asked.
Heli smiled and shook his head. “We will all go to Bethlehem. I myself must register. There is no other way.”
Mary nodded. “It must be this way, Ima. Do you not see how Yahweh has arranged this census? For it is written: ‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.’ Everything is as it should be,” Mary said with confidence.
Heli nodded slowly, his weary eyes dawning with understanding. “She is right. Everything is unfolding as it should. I forget sometimes, my daughter, the miracle of whose child you carry.”
“You know, I recall the Rabbi speaking those very verses last Sabbath,” Joseph added, “and I have been pondering on them ever since – about what it meant, concerning the babe Mary carries. God’s Son, if He is to be the ruler over Israel, must come out of Bethlehem to fulfill the Scriptures.” He shook his head in amazement. “I was wondering how we were going to end up in Bethlehem. God is using Caesar’s evil census to get us there.” He laughed. “God is great! We need not worry for Mary, for He does indeed have everything in His control.”
 Micah 5:2
“No! His name is to be John.” Elisabeth spoke up.
“John?” Lemuel asked, his bushy eyebrows rising up to meet his hairline. “But there is no one among your relatives with that name.”
Each person present started talking at once, thinking Elisabeth must be mistaken.
Lemuel turned to Zechariah and asked, “What is the child to be named?”
Zechariah asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.”
“John? Are you sure?” Lemuel asked again.
“His name is John!” Gasps of surprise came from all corners of the house as Zechariah’s voice returned to him. Laughing and crying, he began to dance around praising God and prophesying.
“My Love!” Elizabeth reached toward her husband, who grasped her in a firm embrace. She cupped his face in her hands and wept. “I have missed your voice.”
Zechariah threw caution to the wind and kissed his wife firmly on the mouth. “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come and has redeemed His people!” Zechariah lifted his hands toward the heavens and cried with joy as he praised God. The people around him felt the glory of the moment and one by one began to kneel in prayer.
Zechariah took John from Lemuel and, lifting him high in his arms, proclaimed, “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for Him. You will give God’s people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.”
Elisabeth and Mary hugged each other and sobbed as Zechariah continued to prophesy. The wonder of it all took their breath away. Zechariah could speak again! What other great things would happen? Their neighbours were filled with awe and, as the weeks passed throughout the hill country of Judea, people began talking about the new baby born to Elisabeth and Zechariah. All who heard the story wondered about it, asking, “What then, is this child going to be?”
For the Lord's hand was with him.
 Luke 1:67-69
Exciting things are happening in the world today that are in direct relation to prophecy being fulfilled. But I wonder how many Christians realize what is happening around them? Last week on June 9, 2015, something remarkable happened that amazingly coincides with events surrounding the President of Syria, Bashar Hafez al-Assad, (more commonly known as Bashar Assad) and a Jewish mystic in Israel. It is no secret that President Assad is losing his grip on Syria and that all signs seem to be pointing to its fall. What has not been widely reported however, is the news out of Israel concerning 76 year-old Rabbi Amram Vaknin, a Jewish mystic whose latest prophecy is both thrilling and frightening when combined with the latest news about Syria.
First let me tell you about the news regarding Rabbi Amram Vaknin. On Tuesday morning (June 9) he was leading a prayer service in the Cave of Elijah in Haifa, Israel. Approximately 30 Jewish men and 30 Jewish women were present at the time. The purpose of the prayer service was to pray for the welfare of the Jewish people.
According to Breaking Israel News, Gil Nachman, an aide to the Rabbi and an eyewitness, reported that at approximately 11:30 AM, the Rabbi suddenly fell to the ground of the cave. Naturally, all those present assumed the Rabbi was ill, but while they were dealing with reviving him the Rabbi was actually receiving a vision from the Lord. According to Nachman, the Rabbi received the following vision from Elijah the Prophet:
There is a decree from Heaven that war will be starting in the south of Israel, will move to the north of Israel and will continue inside of Israel. Thousands of people will die, God-forbid.”
Why is this important? And why should Christians care what this Rabbi saw? Because his prophecies come true! And Scripture says that one of the ways we verify a true prophet of God is by whether or not their prophecies are fulfilled (Deuteronomy 18:21-22), and so far the Rabbi has been 100% accurate in his predictions. According to Breaking Israel News Rabbi Vaknin accurately predicted:
Due to this latest vision, all Jewish people throughout the world are being asked to unite together in prayer and fasting in order to avert this decree from the Lord.
But what does this have to do with Syria and President Bashar Assad? Plenty. There are several hints in sacred Jewish texts and in the Bible to a connection between the fate of Syria, in particular between the fall of Damascus, Syria’s capital city, and the imminent arrival of the Messiah. The 2nd century Jewish sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai predicted that when an evil ruler in Damascus falls from power, the Messiah, son of David, will appear.
And it is a sign for you, when you see the Nero of the East fall in Damascus, the Salvation will come to Israel, and Mashiah Ben David will come… – Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai
Isaiah 17:1-3 says this about Damascus:
A prophecy against Damascus:“See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins. The cities of Aroer will be deserted and left to flocks, which will lie down, with no one to make them afraid. The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim, and royal power from Damascus; the remnant of Aram will be like the glory of the Israelites,” declares the Lord Almighty.
Damascus has never been a heap of ruins. Yes, it has been captured. Yes, it has been destroyed but it has always been rebuilt. Currently, it is the oldest continually inhabited city in the world! If it falls ISIS will quickly seize Jordan, then Lebanon and finally Israel. The Rabbi's message said, "War will be starting in the south of Israel." ISIS has been in the Gaza Strip for some time and now with the Palestinian terror group Hamas on the outs with ISIS and with Egypt in their cross-hairs as well, it will be interesting to see if the Rabbi's prophecy will come to fruition. Time will tell. Pray for Israel!